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Investigation of Crimes Committed during 2008 August War


Lado Bitchashvili, Shida Kartli 

Public Defender’s Office organized a public debate “Investigation of Crimes Committed during 2008 War and Security Challenges“ on July 28, in the Gori Civic Engagement Center to discuss the investigation being carried out by the International Criminal Court into the crimes committed during the 2008 war against the citizens of Georgia.

Over 6 000 applications were submitted to the ICC with regard to the alleged crimes committed during the 2008 war on behalf of the Georgian citizens. The ICC, unlike the European Court on Human Rights, studies the responsibility of concrete individuals instead the responsibilities of the participatory states. 

The speakers during the public debate in Gori were: first deputy of the public defender Natia Katsitadze, head of the department on the state representation in front of the international courts at the Ministry of Justice Beka Dzamashvili, ICC program manager at the Open Society Georgia Foundation Nika Jeiranashvili, representative of Human Rights Center Tamar Avaliani and head of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association’s Gori office Ketevan Bebiashvili. 

The residents of the villages alongside the occupation line and IDP settlements also attended the public debate. 

Deputy public defender spoke about the role of the ICC and investigation procedures and stages into the alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 2008 War.

“The ICC has commenced investigation and today we informed the society about the investigation procedures and challenges of the process,” Natia Katsitadze said.

Tamar Avaliani of Human Rights Center underlined several issues during her speech, including the domestic investigation institutions, which have imposed full responsibility of the war crimes on the International Criminal Court. 

Tamar Avaliani said it is important that The Hague Court opened a field office in Georgia, which will raise public awareness about the ongoing investigation process.

Tamar Avaliani, Human Rights Center: “The first stage of the pre-trial investigation lasted 7 years – it started in 2008 and lasted till the end of 2015. In October, 2015 the ICC prosecutor publicly announced her request to the pre-trial chamber to authorize the prosecutor’s office to open the investigation. It was the period, when The Hague Court observes the domestic investigation, how the state manages to investigate the crimes against humanity. Since the ICC commenced the investigation, it means the investigation on the national level was not effective and the Government of Georgia states that The Hague Court is investigating the war crimes and they cooperate with them.”

Representative of the Ministry of Justice Beka Dzamashvili said the international investigation and its results will be not only legally but also politically important for Georgia.

“The investigation has been underway since January 2016. The process is mainly conducted by The Hague Court, we cooperate with them in this process. Currently, the investigation is in active phase. However, it is lengthy process to achieve concrete results and identify responsible persons for war crimes though it was enough time for the Court to collect evidence to identify concrete outcomes and we do our best to support them in this process,” Beka Dzamashvili said.

The meeting continued with discussion; part of the questions referred to the ineffectiveness of the domestic investigation and some people mentioned that part of the people, who had witnessed the war crimes in 2008, have already passed away. The public debate of the Public Defender of Georgia is organized by the European Union project "Support to the Public Defender's Office II", during which, important human rights issues are discussed.

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